Parent Top 10
As I prepare for next month’s camp counselor training, I find myself reflecting—once again—that parents should get at least this much preparation before they start the job of raising kids. After all, just like camp counselors want to have a positive impact on their campers and thrive in their work, parents, too, want to have a positive impact on their kids and survive the demands of parenthood.
Since not every parent has gone through staff training and been a camp counselor (which is great parenting practice, by the way), I thought I’d share one part of our curriculum. In our “Counselor Top 10” session, we cover the ten most important things great camp counselors do. I converted the list from counselor/camper to parent/child language. Here is the new Parent Top 10 list!
Parent Top 10
What will you will do to be a life-changing, memorable parent for your kids? Remember, the goal is to create positive relationships and experiences for your children.
- Begin with the end in mind
- When your child becomes an adult and their friends ask, What were your parents like? what do you want them to say?
- Focus on your child
Put your child’s needs ahead of your own while they’re in your care.
- Build a close relationship with your child
- Greet your child immediately and enthusiastically when he/she comes down for breakfast each morning.
- Learn what interests your child has and help them explore hobbies. Ask how things are going (school, friends, life).
- Check in with each of your children, every day.
- THIS IS SO IMPORTANT WE’RE SAYING IT AGAIN – EVERY day, check in with EVERY child: “How’s your day going? Who have you made friends with? What was the best part of your day? What are you having trouble with?” This will take just a few minutes but will make the difference for some children between an okay childhood and an amazing one.
- Speak with children at eye level and use positive body language to show them you are listening and you are genuinely interested in them and what they are saying.
- Communicate clearly using language that children easily understand; avoid sarcasm, which is often misunderstood.
- Provide positive family leadership
- Model and enforce a respectful, supportive, kind, and inclusive family culture.
- At weekly family meetings, start discussions and games.
- Be present and observant of your child’s verbal and nonverbal actions towards others and be an encouraging and supportive relationship coach to help your child develop friendship skills.
- Watch your TONE OF VOICE and your words.
- Create fun
- Smile & laugh.
- Use POSITIVE words.
- Celebrate rain & other unplanned events.
- Sing loudly.
- Dance like no one’s watching.
- Make mundane things like sunscreen, teeth brushing, room clean up, laundry folding, and bedtime FUN with a game, a chant, a dance, or a song.
- Read one of your favorite childhood/young adult chapter books to your child.
- During down times and while going here and there, interact with your child by playing games, telling stories, and singing songs.
- Promote growth
- Encourage children to try new activities and hobbies.
- Praise and reward your children for specific achievements. Use growth mindset and character praise!
- Debrief about your child’s day: What was the best part? What did they learn?
- Be patient and understanding.
- Address problem behaviors in a nurturing and positive way.
- Serve as a positive role model
- Provide consistent leadership and structure.
- Take care of yourself. Be sure you get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise.
- Use appropriate language and discuss appropriate topics around children.
- Follow and consistently enforce all safety rules (e.g., helmets while bike riding, wearing seatbelts, not texting while driving).
- Communicate effectively with your spouse, teachers, and other care-givers.
- Express concerns or complaints to the right people in a respectful way.
- Be a positive, contributing member of the family.
- Be flexible: We need to work as a team to ensure the best experience for our children. Job assignments are not based on requests, but on the needs of the family, which vary from day to day.
- Speak positively about your family and children.
- Arrive on time to all meals, activities, and events.
- Get help – often!
The best parents know when to seek advice and get support.
There you have it. I thought some of these tips might not translate well to parenthood, but now that I look them over, they appear to be just as good for parents as they are for camp counselors!
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